Experience the magic of South Korea’s most iconic winter festivals

South Korea has many winter events to get you in the festive spirit. Source: Mathew Schwartz / Unsplash.com

DECEMBER through to February in South Korea is cold… very cold. Average temperatures in the region maintain a freezing -6 to 3 degrees Celsius throughout the three months, with harsh winds making the chill bite even harder.

If you’re heading over to this side of the world during this wintry period, don’t let the cold discourage you from including a bit of outdoor activity in your travel itinerary.

Because the frosty weather, though brutal at times, also provides the perfect backdrop for electrifying winter festivals – and South Korea has a fair number of good ones to help you fight that cold-induced lethargy.

So forget your plans for hibernation – grab a coat and some great skin moisturizers instead, and spend some valuable time with the loved ones at these fabulous winter-themed gigs:

Lighting Festival at The Garden of Morning Calm

The Garden of Morning Calm is one of the most tranquil places in South Korea, known for its beautifully kept flower beds and perfectly trimmed bushes. The garden offers a natural array of stunning colors from the growing shrubbery, but every year the park is transformed into even more of a colorful paradise.

The Lighting Festival is one of the biggest light events in Korea, covering nearly 330,000 square meters with lights and lanterns that dazzle under the moon. The lights give a feel of festiveness to those who visit during the winter season.

Where: The Garden of Morning Calm, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do

When: Dec 8, 2017 – March 25, 2018

Pyeongchang Trout Festival

Bare-hand fishing, sledding, and old-style hole-in-the-ice-fishing can all be done at the Pyeongchang Trout Festival. The 35-day festival is also close to the Alpensia Ski Resort and Yonpyeong Ski Resort, so you can spend a day out on the slopes, and maybe gear up to shadow your favorite athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will be held in cities across South Korea.

The tradition of the Trout Festival deems that you should feast on raw, freshly caught trout – but you can make up your own traditions here and eat the delicious fish however you chose.

Where: Area of Odaecheon Stream, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do

When: Dec 22, 2017 – Feb 25, 2018

Taebaeksan Mountain snow festival

The incredible Taebaeksan Mountain Snow Festival offers guests an fine array of winter-themed activities and events.

The huge ice sculptures are sure to get everyone’s attention. Here you can find replicas of Egypt’s Great Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, princess-castles and well-known cartoon characters, as well as performances, snow sledding, and hiking tours.

Where: Areas of Taebaeksan National Park and Hwangji Pond, Taebaek-si, Gangwon-do

When: Dec 8, 2017 – March 25, 2018

The Jeju Fire festival

As traditions go, this is a pretty spectacular one. The Jeju Fire Festival is held every year to pray for a healthy and prosperous new year. This tradition stems from Jeju farmers setting fire to their crop-less fields to rid the land of harmful bugs and encourage new grass to grow for their cattle to graze on.

Nowadays, the entire side of the Hallasan Mountain is set ablaze under controlled conditions to give festival-goers an awesome show. Some locals have even chosen to get married at this festival.

Where: Area of Saebyeol Oreum, Bongseong-ri, Aewol-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

When: March 1 – 4, 2018

Homigot sunrise festival

Homigot is located on the Easternmost point of the South Korean peninsula, which means it has the earliest sunrise across the whole of Korea. The Sunrise Festival is marked as a national event and Homigot is renowned for being the best spot to usher in the New Year.

Close to the shore sits one part of Sangsaeng’s Hand, a two-part bronze sculpture in the shape of hands. During sunrise, from certain angles, it can look as if the hand in the sea is capturing the sun in its palm.

Where: Homigot Sunrise Plaza, Pohang-si, Gyeongsanbuk-do

When: Dec 31, 2017 – Jan 1, 2018